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Month: March 2014

Velocity Dually and 2.4″ Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Velocity was at yesterday’s Detroit Bike City expo selling blemish / second rims, and I was lucky enough to pick up a pair of Dually 29″ rims for $60; an incredibly good price. While I’d previously discounted the idea of making a special / wide front rim for the rigid fork of the El Mariachi Ti, with the acquisition of this rim I think I will.

By fitting one of the new 2.4″ Schwalbe Racing Ralphs (old tread pattern) that I’ve had sitting around home I found what should be a great setup for the rigid fork. Set up tubeless it should feel especially nice. Hub-wise I think I’ll go with the same Shimano HB-M788 that I use with the original wheel build, some Sapiem or DT Swiss (depending on what I can find) spokes, and either silver brass or blue alloy (to match the rear wheel) nipples.

After fitting the tire for the test fit I let it sit for a while and measured it. For the Dually with a Racing Ralph 2.4″ it measured at 61.32mm, whereas the original Arch EX and Racing Ralph 2.25″ measures at 55.77mm. The Salsa Semi and Racing Ralph 2.4″ on the steel El Mariachi measures 58.47mm. Thus, this wider rim doesn’t seem to notably increase the width of the tire, but hopefully the additional volume will offer just the right amount of cushion to go with the rigid fork.

And hopefully I can do it on the cheap.

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172.5mm Cranks and a Third Bottle Cage

This evening I fitted the Salsa Vaya with some eBay-special 172.5mm cranks. These are the same model (Apex) as came on the bike, but 2.5mm longer, which I hope will make me more comfortable on the bike. I also fitted a third bottle cage, which I hope to use this weekend. I’ve been invited to a century ride on Hines Drive, a popular road riding location on the west side of Detroit. If all goes as I hope — which includes weather cooperating — I intend to use this bike to do a wholly self supported road century on Sunday.

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A Project Unfinished

Thirteen years ago, back when I moved into my apartment, I started building what was to be a solid oak mission style queen size bed. I got a fair ways into the project, finishing the posts and horizontal pieces for the head and foot boards, but I never went any further because mid-way through the project I bought the condo where Danielle and I now live. Most of my time was directed into fixing the place up, and then after that I found different hobbies; from beer brewing to electronics, traveling to cycling.

Finishing this bed is one of those projects I’ve kept meaning to do, but at this point Danielle and I are looking to purchase a king size mattress, which wouldn’t fit into this bed, rendering it somewhat useless. This is something I never got around to finishing, and found myself at the point where it was time to abandon it.

Last week I offered the wood to my dad as a project that he could finish up and today he picked it up. I’m really glad to that he wants to work on it, and thus I hope it’ll serve as an enjoyable project and end up as something my parents can use.

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2014 Fat Bike Shreadfest at Hanson Hills

With the growing popularity in fatbiking, the Hanson Hills Recreation Area in Grayling decided to groom the ski trails for biking and host a fatbike race called the Fat Bike Shredfest (PDF flier mirror). I’d normally consider driving to Grayling (about three hours each way) a bit much just for riding my bike, but the weather was looking nice and this photo from Jorden Wakeley made the trails look tempting, so after talking it over with Danielle on Thursday I packed the car and headed out to the race.

This ended up being a super-fun time, with the race course being 4.5 miles (and about 250′ of climbing) per lap, with three laps for the Sport category. Despite starting out in last place (a usual thing for me, I don’t take off very fast) I ended up finishing second (of six — results). This even netted me a nifty aluminum trophy made by 4mile Welding, a fabricator out of Grayling. The trophy was a nice surprise, as in Sport and Beginner classes trophies were only intended for first place winners, but as no one entered the Beginner class its award was used for the second-place Sport racer: me.

The race course conditions were simply incredible: amazingly nice ski equipment-groomed trail eight or ten feet wide. It was smooth, grippy, fast, and just simply fun. Being in the rolling hills around Grayling it was also incredibly beautiful. I don’t normally get to see snow covered hills stretching off into the distance, so this was quite excellent (photo). Except for a couple occasional patches of ice (none of which caused substantial problems) it was almost like riding on a freshly graded dirt road without the gravel.

After the race I had a bit of the provided chili and beer, changed into a dry jersey and base layer, talked to people for a bit, then headed back out for another ride. I tried to cover all of the groomed trails which weren’t included in the race route, and except for one small connector I believe I succeeded. This ride was much slower paced, and just… wonderful. After the social, near-vomiting, fast-paced excitement of the race it was exactly what I needed. During the times I stopped I was amazed at just how comfortable I felt being out there in the woods, a couple of miles from my car, alone. It just felt… right.

The drive to Hanson Hills was slightly shorter than heading to Ray’s, and the money raised is to go towards establishing a full-time fatbike route at Hanson Hills next year. The race fee was a slightly-high $50, but I’m willing to pay that to help kickstart more professionally groomed fatbike routes. If next year there’s a place where I can go to get in 3+ solid hours of outdoor riding on beautiful offroad surfaces like this that’s only about three hours away, I’ll do it. I hope this happens.

I’m really glad I went.

The Strava postings of today’s rides can be found here: the race, the ride.

Here’s some photos from the race (all taken by Justin Andre): 1 · 2 · 3 · 4

Here are the photos that I took while poking around post-race: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4

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Fat Head’s Trail Head Pale Ale


This past Tuesday I headed down to Ray’s in Cleveland for some mountain biking. As per usual this was a fun time, and afterward we went out to one of the local breweries for food. Having to drive back home I only had one beer (a nice IPA), and brought back this growler of Trail Head Pale Ale from Fat Head’s Brewery and Saloon (Beeradvocate).

I have a strong, visceral dislike for this company’s logo and branding, but they make some tasty beer and food. The served portions on the food are a bit ridiculous (one appetizer is easily enough for five people and the sandwiches — Headwiches — are good for two), but it’s very worth stopping at. It also happens to be just off of a highway on the way back to Michigan which is a nice plus.

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First Ride of the Year from Home

It’s pretty common for me to start from home for bike rides, and in previous years I’d done a number of winter rides which set out from home, over to River Bends or so, and back. With the abnormally heavy snow falls of 2013/2014 my first from-home ride didn’t take place until today, March 2nd.

For today’s ride I left home with River Bends as my destination. The Rochester Bike Shop team was having a get together / training event at the park, so I figured I’d swing by and say hello. The route up to the park was so difficult that the normally 3-4 mile route took me nearly 50 minutes (moving time) as I dealt with impassible sidewalks, ice, and three inches of freshly fallen snow. After arriving at the park I rode one pass through the entrance trail, but as my tires were at path-riding pressure I had a hard time. I could have dropped pressures to something more appropriate for riding trails, but I didn’t want to pump them back up later. So, after a bit of talking I left the park and headed back home.

For the route home I conjured up my best residential street memories from back when I was first exploring the area, and I found a route which only required me to walk one spot, a frustrating piece of sidewalk along Shelby which was mostly icy footprints and plow piles covered in a gentle blanket of snow (photo). Riding along the deceptively named Powers Court (map – it’s the only Van Dyke to Shelby through-road in the neighborhood and decidedly not a court) I happened across some deep icy ruts, one of which (photo) put me on my side. Like most winter falls it was uneventful, but likely amusing to anyone watching.

The closer I got to home the more the residential streets and sidewalks had thawed, and it wasn’t long until I was riding through swaths of icy, grey slush. This left a giant pile of muck on the downtube of the bike. Unfortunately the largest chunk (about two fists in size) fell off just before I grabbed this photo. A few watering cans of hot tap water rinsed it all off, and an hour in front of the fan had it looking shiny and clean again.

Strava data for this ride can be found here, but the result is 1:46:11 moving time, about 30 minutes stopped (when talking at River Bends and at traffic crossings), and only 12.34 miles. I’m really looking forward to longer rides once the weather is nice again. Hopefully this year will be at least as successful as last in that regard.

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